Home / Entertainment / Vinay Menon: A random act of kindness means I’ll be watching the Jays in a jacket given to Dan Hill during the 1993 World Series

Vinay Menon: A random act of kindness means I’ll be watching the Jays in a jacket given to Dan Hill during the 1993 World Series

Players lift Joe Carter in celebration of the Toronto Blue Jays World Series win at the SkyDome in 1993. Vinay Menon has a jacket commemorating the series.

Before driving my twin daughters to school, I asked if they knew what day it was.

Ah, Friday?they replied sarcastically, giving me a suspicious once-over while cramming their lunch bags into their backpacks. “What day is it?”

I replied in operatic contralto: “Opening Day for the Jaaaays!”

They couldn’t have looked less excited had I bellowed, “It’s National Broccoli Day!”

As we scrambled out the door, they explained why they would be unable to watch with me, a spurious list that included ballet class, homework, not feeling so good and baseball is boring. That last one hurt. But it makes genetic sense. Their mother would rather wear a neon catsuit and bob for apples at a monster truck rally before going to another Jays game. She’s done.

So as a new season begins this weekend, I will be cheering by myself in the basement as the ingrates I financially support dawdle elsewhere, no doubt giggling and watching Timothée Chalamet clips. But I won’t be alone.

I will have the company of … The Jacket.

The Jacket was produced as a wearable memento in 1993, the last time the Jays won it all. It is cotton with white sleeves and a blue torso. It has a Jays crest on the left breast, and a World Series patch on the right arm with more gold glitter than RuPaul would greenlight.

I became the third owner of The Jacket last fall. The original owner was singer Dan Hill, who was given The Jacket after performing our national anthem in Game 3 of the 1993 World Series. Mr. Hill then gave The Jacket to music producer John Sheard, one of my favourite Star readers, who has emailed over the years, including to challenge my squirrel love and disabuse me of any notion these adorable rodents are anything but “tree rats.”

This time, John was responding to a column in which I moaned about how my girls no longer cared about the Jays: “I was touched by that story and that is why I write to you today.”

He then told me the story about The Jacket. As a huge baseball fan himself, he figured Hill would’ve taken him to the World Series. But Hill took his wife and John stayed in a Toronto studio writing a string arrangement. To atone, Hill gave him The Jacket.

“I wore that iconic jacket to a few games but for most of the last almost 30 years, it’s been hanging in a closet, collecting dust and I am pretty sure that sad fact has jinxed the Jays ever since,” John wrote. “So, I have decided to pay that jacket forward to a true Jays’ fan … I don’t want to see it go back in the closet for another 30 years.”

It was one of the sweetest emails I’ve ever received.

I arranged for a courier. And, soon, The Jacket moved from John’s closet to my Jays’ shrine, which includes a 1985 championship pennant tumbler and the Donaldson and Bautista jerseys my daughters used to wear when they were little, before they decided baseball is boring.

I will be wearing The Jacket as the 2022 season rumbles to life against Texas. Will I look foxy? No. I will look like a tree rodent. By modern fashion, The Jacket is decidedly 1993. But what I love most about The Jacket is that it symbolizes a random act of kindness from a stranger.

And one day I will also pay The Jacket forward to another true Jays’ fan.

I’ve been spending a lot of time lately thinking about kindness. It must be connected to the unbearable horrors unfolding in Ukraine. The relentless evil of the terrorist organization known as “Russia,” and its murderous leader Vladimir Putin, a psycho who has cemented his VIP status in the annals of human garbage, is beyond depressing.

Putin and his violent henchmen represent humanity at its worst. But as a countermeasure, the response to this illegal invasion, to this barbaric death and destruction, has also revealed humanity at its best. Countries are welcoming Ukrainian refugees. Volunteers are cooking meals and driving trucks into combat zones with medical supplies. Charities are co-ordinating to figure out what needs to get where and when. The media is hyper-focused and outlets such as CNN are doing dazzling work on the ground, documenting atrocities while encouraging viewers to help, to not get numb, to be resolutely kind.

John Sheard and I have never met. But he wanted me to have The Jacket, which once had a special place in his heart, because he thought it might have a special place in my heart. For that reason alone, it does. I’m wearing The Jacket as I type this.

Now, if the Jays get off to an 0-10 start, I may have to burn The Jacket and put a fatwa on Mr. Sheard’s head. But if that does not happen, all I really want to say today is that, when the world is this abysmally dark, we can all spark a light of our own.

We can all engage in random acts of kindness. We can all do something small that might feel big to someone else. We can all see the value in nice and thoughtful and compassionate.

I’m unreasonably excited about the Jays this season.

And I’m hopeful the world, one random act of kindness at a time, will stop being so bleak.

Vinay Menon is the Star’s pop culture columnist based in Toronto. Follow him on Twitter: @vinaymenon

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